GREAT FALLS — The Waggin' Tails Optimist Club in Great Falls is working with East Middle School and Canine Companions For Independence (CCFI) to add a friendly face to their daily staff.
Waggin' Tails member Shane Neuman is a part of the group who brought the idea for the Waggin Tail’s club to reality, the only organization of its kind. He explained, "The idea was born to help teach children animal husbandry and taking care of animals in the community.”
The club started with a goal to help one Great Falls middle school add a friendly, furry face.
Fiji is a facility dog that works with Kim Monroe to help students and staff members if they are having a bad day.
Kim works as the volunteer president for the Big Sky Chapter of Canine Companions For Independence.
She said, “There are kids with so many challenges in this community that we don’t know, and they go to school and sometimes they just feel like they can’t handle all the pressure. So if they have somewhere and something - somebody - they can go talk to that will just listen to them and give them unconditional love, makes their day so much better.”
The Waggin’ Tails Optimist Club is helping East Middle School get a facility dog of their own.
Principal Brad Barringer, who helped start the same program at North Middle School, says it’s a great opportunity for the school.
Barringer said, “I think it just gives them a chance to have a friendly face and something you can use as a reward.”
Waggin’ Tails will be hosting fundraising events to help the school with training and ongoing costs for their facility dog.
Some of the costs will include sending the faculty member who will be adopting the dog to California where Canine Companions For Independence conducts training.
Along with learning the pet that has been trained to be a facility animal, the adopter gets to know the pet and the commands associated with a trained facility animal.
The club is going to host a 5K run in June called Strut Your Mutt, which will be the main fundraiser for the costs associated with the training and normal ongoing costs you would have with any pet, like food and vet care.
Everyone involved hopes to have a facility dog at East Middle School within the next year.